Does Time Spent Equal Effectiveness?

July 17, 2018

On May 30, Mary Meeker presented her 294-slide deck Internet Trends 2018. eMarketer has put together a deep dive of six of the trends mentioned in the deck. I wanted to focus on two of them:


Mobile is driving
digital media usage

Spend, spend, spend
on mobile ads

As eMarketer mentions (and should come as no surprise), consumers are spending more and more time on smartphones (especially as they become larger) and less and less on tablets (and consequently, other media). And where are they spending their smartphone time? According to eMarketer:

Audio took up the biggest chunk of mobile app time in 2017, at 45.7 minutes (about 30% of the total). Social followed close behind with 36.6 minutes, or just under a quarter of app time. Despite the post-Cambridge Analytica #DeleteFacebook movement, eMarketer predicts that mobile time spent with Facebook will not see a decrease.

The flip side of the increase in time spent on mobile devices (ie, smartphones), is the ad dollars going to them. According to Meeker’s chart #94 in her deck, print get 9% of the ad dollars but only 4% of time spent, while mobile gets 26% of the dollars but 29% of time spent. Clearly, when only looked at this comparison it appears that more should be spent on mobile and less on print.

But should it? What this comparison does not take into account is effectiveness. According to a new study from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, “How advertisers rate media buys: Developing rules of thumb to guide media selection,”  print in general has a higher mean dollar value per 1,000 exposures than does mobile.

Another recent article entitled “Pivot to traditional: Direct-to-consumer brands sour on Facebook” companies are reconsidering their media investments and are moving to an omnichannel strategy with a renewed focus on traditional media vehicles.


While time spent with media is an important component of a media mix strategy, it should not be the only consideration. Media effectiveness plays an important role, which is most likely why dollar spent on print as a percentage of total media dollars remains high. Other considerations should also include how that time is spent (as Ehrenberg-Bass states in the article mentioned above, OTS or “Opportunity to See”) and how it influences the entire path to purchase.